Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Short Trip to India...

If this project were to follow a photographer we studied it might fit under Sophie Call... but only because it is about me. Everyone has dreams... mine would be to travel the world taking photos for National Geographic and educating people about the world they live in. Because by seeing the world around us we gain an empathetic perspective that will help us all understand the world we share. As my final project I decided I would realize that dream, so I booked a flight to India and flew economy across the Pacific.

After touching down in Mumbai with nothing but the clothes on my back and whatever essentials would fit into my camera bag it was a long game of leap-frog from from bush-plane to bus to truck before I reached the temple of Hare Krishna 78 miles north of Mumbai; a temple best known for hosting the largest color festival in the region. This was my reason for coming to India, at the end of a long winter it was time to throw my worries to the wind and welcome the coming springtime.  Here in Northern India the color festival, Holi for short, is celebrated with special importance. The colors themselves symbolize the love of Lord Krishna and as the natives say "most importantly they help to bring people together in a spirit of brotherhood and oneness". After having arrived at the temple, it was clear that the colors were working; though the crowds were still small, there was nothing but expectant smiles all around. 
My first impression of India is a kind one, the people are very friendly and very open, my curiosity led me to the inside of the temple first. Amidst the chanting and dancing inside, I could tell there was a sense of focused anticipation mingled with the celebratory atmosphere. 

If I hadn't known I was in India before I stepped inside the temple, it was obvious by now that I definitely wasn't home, it seemed like another world despite the fact that I was on the same planet I'd lived on my entire life. I had never seen anything like this. Yet a commonality I see here in India, as well as everywhere else I've been, is that when people gather for any kind of celebration, barriers of age dissolve and the old and the young come together. Celebrations like this remind me why I love photography; no other art can so accurately display human relations, emotion, or interaction. As I wander the grounds observing the premature color-throwing and already worn-out children and elders, I feel the colors already tying us together as we join to celebrate something everyone can share, springtime.
As the crowd multiplied the anticipation grew exponentially. Soon the entire grounds were packed so thickly that the only mode of transportation was to take advantage of the space created as others moved.  I was impressed by how automatically people seemed to gather as the time for the 'official' color throwing crept closer. It seemed that nothing would stop the growing apprehension and that surely the very air would burst from the excitement before it was time. Actually it seemed that the air did burst! By the time it was time to throw the color the air was so charged that when the countdown reached zero an explosion was inevitable. And explode it did. 

The aftermath of emotional cataclysm is often a rapid spiral downward. After such expenditure of everyone's energy creating such an eruption a dive seemed inevitable. But with the newfound hope of spring and the spirit of oneness still permeating the air there was only the gradual descent into real life...

The world is a place that is teeming with life all around, and you don't have to book a flight to India to figure that out, adventures are happening everywhere if you look at look for it.  Photography does that for me, gives me that new perspective almost as literally as putting a different lens on my camera does. I actually have a saying, whenever I experience something new, whether it turns out awful like taking Chem 105, or turns out to be a great experience like a spur-of-the-moment trip to India, I can say that I have added a lens to my collection.  A new lens can distort the world we see, let us zoom in on a specific part of that world, or give us a glimpse at the big picture, but a lens always changes the perspective, and so do new experiences. That is what photography offers to me, and that is what the world offers to everyone who doesn't just look, but sees.   


  1. I feel lonely when I see that I'm the only one without a comment, so I'm going to give myself a pat on the back and say what a great project I have, and what fun it must have been to do it... thanks for a great class everyone!

  2. Great documentary work, which I like. And the photos of the colors going up into the air are stupendous. The contrast and the array of colors.

  3. Cool project. I really like the pictures with the dye up in the air, it really captures the feel of the whole thing.

  4. I like this essay. My favorite pictures are the ones of individuals in the crowd (I'm not sure that makes sense, actually). The picture of the redhead girl looking back, and the picture of the people with white shirts over their faces, and then the picture with the temple in the background are my favorites.

  5. I've seen a lot of pictures from the Festival of Colors, and yours are by far the best.

  6. I really love your photos of all of the colors. I hope your camera survived. It looks like you went to India, except you need more brown people. :)